A Post on Student Achievement Best Practices
By Edgardo Castro, M.S. Ed, ELL Teacher
As an English language learners (ELL) teacher in one of the rural schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in which, 18% of our school's population are mostly Hispanics it is highly critical to teach both language and content especially the wide range of proficiency in English language levels of our ELLs in four domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Thus, embedded language and content lessons are inseparable in Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies.
Therefore, planning and teaching is inescapable and enormous to meet the rigorous and highly demanding academic standards with limited time to dig deeper into the specifics of each lesson.
However, my 9 years experience as a general classroom teacher (3rd, 2nd, 5th, and 6th grades) has helped me tremendously to cater the needs of my ELLs. For instance, I would implement a differentiated remediation activities that focus with specificity of certain skill/s both language and content of the lesson. On the other hand, while teaching the skill to my ELLs it is my rule of thumb to differentiate the presentation styles, such as, I would present the lesson in multimodal strategy that will capture their interests in audio
(listening) - teacher talking with realia or props and video presentation - so my ELLs will be able to see and hear at the same time the importance of the skill/topic, then, I would relate it to authentic, realistic, outside of the school experience. At the end of the day, I would reflect what strategies worked best and how I can improve my teaching to better enhance my ELLs student achievement.
Finally, these are the things I've learned in my 12 years in the teaching profession:
1.) Provide differentiated remediation activities that target deficits skill of each and every student (whether ELLs or not - this work best!);
2.) While presenting the lesson- focus on how to differentiate the learning process, such as using a multimodal aspects of the learning development - audio, video, and connect lesson/s to realistic, authentic, and outside classroom situations;
3.) For ELL students who are considered in the enhanced level group, I would challenge them by giving hands-on, discovery approach activities that will accelerate their learning through deeper critical thinking, and problem solving skills;
4.) Constant, ongoing formative assessment should be used, for example, using thumbs-up, thumbs down, and asking questions while presenting the lesson - then, adjust lesson if necessary. This way, it's very easy to revolve the process: remediate, differentiate, and accelerate. Oh, don't forget reflection - at the end of the day, it's all about the learners, and, as educators, we should not forget the critical element of self-reflection.
So, how do you challenge yourself to improve your student achievement?
Edgardo Castro is president of the Northampton County Education Association (NCEA),a Virginia Education Association (VEA) ELL Trainer, and a member of the VEA Emerging Leaders Cadre. Edgardo may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.